it’s been 17 months. i can still hear his voice in my mind. i can still smell his scent. his eyes, his laugh, even his walk, his stride ~ it is all still so crystal clear in my mind. nothing has faded. no memory has started to fray. his body language for all of his moods is still right there for me to visualize. i only have to call it up. our daily routines call out to me to perform making a mockery of my life now.
i vividly remember how we would wake each morning. no matter how large the bed, we woke pressed against each other ~ entwined.
during the day we both had our individual pursuits but we were nearly always pursuing our pursuits in the same room.
nights still crush me. i used to love going to bed because i went to bed with him. now it is a task to perform, like laundry, or eating. i turn out the light and i can see his broad shoulders next to me. his arms are open waiting for me to curl against him, to be drawn into his embrace, to be warmed by his love and lulled by the sound of his lovely, lovely heart beating strong.
i know him so well. i know how he thinks, and if he could see me now i know what he would say to himself………
She’s just going through the motions of living. She looks so tired, so hollowed out inside. It’s been 17 months that we’ve been apart and she looks like it has been 17 years.
So this is the face of grief. This is what I would look like if it had been me who was left behind.
She’s exhausted with worry. The dark circles under her eyes only come and go with intensity, but they never go away. She needs sleep but her worries and stress keeps her from getting anything that closely resembles healthy sleep. When I was alive and she was worried I would take her in my arms and make love to her. I would soothe her. I would lull her into a deep sleep with the knowledge that I was there watching over her; with the promise that I would never leave her. She trusted me. Now she trusts no one. She believes she will be hurt, and she has, over and over again. She has no one she can call on to come over like women do. She has no friends. Only our son and daughter are there for her and she’s fighting against being a burden. So she doesn’t tell them how bad it is unless she is falling apart, when it’s almost too much for her to withstand, when it’s real work to ease her anguish.
She talks to me a lot. She talks to God all the time. I don’t know if these kinds of conversations are prayers. It's more like she thinks God is the only one who will listen, and care about what she says. I listen, too, but she doesn’t expect an answer from either one of us. Her voice just trails off.
She tries so hard. She works so hard. She sews and sketches. She thinks if she suddenly dies like I did that when they find her, there will be all this work around her and people will suddenly see she had some value. It breaks me to know that she has fallen back in to her old way of thinking. She told me once that I was the only one who saw that she had any value. She said the children love her because she is their mother and she protected them. But that I was the only one who thought there was a reason she was here. I know now she thinks her reason for being is over with. She thought her reason for being was to love me. And it played out that I had to leave her behind, and she is devastated.
When I died she sat utterly alone for 20 hours until our children could get there. No one scurried over to help her, to sit with her, or to feed her. There was no influx of casseroles or soft voices as background so she would know she wasn’t alone. She simply sat and stared out at the ocean. She watched the sun rise and climb the sky. She saw the shadows of late afternoon reach across the snow. And she saw night drag its blanket of stars and the full moon back to watch down on her while she waited for our children. She had only moved to walk the dogs. She had not fed herself nor even gone to lay down to ease her stiff spine. She was alone until our devastated children came, and she is alone still.
She is retreating into her shell again. I see it more and more every day. The children are worried about her and what they don’t know is she acts the most alive in their presence. They don’t see her there alone hour after day after week after month.
But she does try, just not overly so anymore. Every once in a while, blue moon or so, one or two from that group drop an email, or send up a flair. 'How is she doing?' 'Thinking of you.' And she is always so quick to respond to them, but then nothing. It’s like their obligation is done and if anything bad happens to her they can safely say, 'Well, when we checked, she was fine.' They go back to their busy lives with their friends and family while she sits alone sewing, day after night after day after night.
She's saving for a car so she can go to Church and maybe make friends there. I would love to see that happen for her. It's in the works. All she needs is the VA and more commissions.
She’s trying. Today she danced with the dogs. A song came on that she liked. Its melody was catchy and the lyrics were fun. She tried to create a moment of whimsy. She picked up Scootie and danced with him. She cuddled him and twirled around. Then she set him down on the sofa and picked up Carmen. Crazy Carmen put her paws on my wife’s shoulders and licked her ear. She laughed. I heard her laugh for the first time in a long, long while. She sang and spun around and her eyes settled on the folded flag in its case on the mantle. Her mind flashed back to a time when we danced.
I used to love to dance with her. When I met her, she hadn't danced since high school. I’d sing and pull her in my arms and we’d dance ~ in the kitchen, in the living room, the bedroom, and always on the beach. I even caused a scene by dancing with her at the end of Bearskin Neck on our anniversary in front of a whole bunch of tourists. She wasn’t expecting the dip and she squealed. People clapped and smiled. We love each other so much. It was our last anniversary together.
Our second anniversary apart is coming up and I know that’s what she was thinking of. She was dancing with the dogs and then she cried. She had to sit down. Missing me caused her such pain that even after 17 months of enduring a life without me, she isn’t there yet. And I know I wouldn’t be either.
She’s still breathing for me and for our children. She’s sewing to try and leave a legacy, something of herself behind when she goes, or comes to me, depending upon how you choose to look at it.
My wife looks broken in half, but it takes a strong person to continue to live with a broken life and a missing heart. She wrote about it once and it is very true. I have her heart. She did, indeed, give it to me. And she was right; I do need it because I'm not as strong as she is. I cannot live without her. She is so utterly alone, and with the knowledge that there is no one out there who will come sit with her. But she is so strong. She has no options to live any differently. I am so proud of her. She is making such beautiful things to leave behind her. Her daughter and son are also very proud of her and a little in awe. They are of an age now where they can appreciate her art.
I miss her. I love her. I worry about her. But she is my wife, and I know she uses her powers of memory and her deep love of me to bring forth images of our life together. She’ll survive.
that’s what he would say, or something very close. he has said it to me before in one way or another. as i have written, our life was financially very hard due to bills and putting the children through college. but our marriage is everything I had ever dreamed of.
it is my belief that i will never feel any intense joy again but i have felt the stirrings of happiness. i was happy when my son and daughter and i were all together for the July 4th holiday. i am back to the monotony of every day life and almost robotic motions of getting through it. but i try at whimsy. at times.
i will go to Camp Widow and put my best foot forward. i am praying for commission work that can build up and carry me through. and then i’ll come back and settle in to work again.
i will always actively miss him. if that’s not “transitioning and empowering myself through the healing power of embracing my widowhood” then so be it. i will join the minority of those who cannot do anything more with grief than endure it and try to get by. i sew for others and that to me is a good thing. i do make pretty things. i will sit in my cave and create things. i will write because, like a burp, it is better out than in. who knows, maybe i will find some wisdom in all this solitude. it worked for the Oracle of Delphi. Jesus went out into the wilderness alone. Thoreau did okay as did Beston. being alone is not scary at all. with the exception of my intense love and life with my Dragon, i have been alone my whole life. for me, it is the awareness that i have been seen by possible friends, but then passed over. that has hurt deeply.
i hope God sees me. i hope He knows how hard it is and is proud of me making the Memory Quilts, or trying to. i hope St. Jude (you know, lost causes), makes a pass over Camp Widow and there will be interest that grows and grows, because it does not have to be quilts for the dead. babies are born every day and couples get married all the time. children grow up and go off to college and need a quilt made from things from home to help them through their homesickness. i can make quilts for anyone for any reason.
i will try for a moment of whimsy again someday. i will dance with my dogs again, but i know i may cry. missing my Dragon is an art form in and of itself. many artists suffer for their art. i can do no less.